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Keeping Dictators Honest : the Role of Population Concentration

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  • Quoc-Anh Doy

    (SMU)

  • Filipe R. Campante
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    Abstract

    In order to explain the apparently paradoxical presence of acceptable governance in many non-democratic regimes, economists and political scientists have focused mostly on institutions acting as de facto checks and balances. In this paper, we propose that population plays a similar role in guaranteeing the quality of governance and redistribution. We argue and demonstrate with historical evidence that the concentration of population around the policy making center serves as an insurgency threat to a dictatorship, inducing it to yield to more redistribution and better governance. We bring this centered concept of population concentration to the data through the Centered Index of Spatial Concentration developed by Do & Campante (2008). The evidence supports our predictions : only in the sample of autocracies, population concentration around the capital city is positively associated with better governance and more redistribution (proxied by post-tax inequality), in OLS and IV regressions. Finally, we provide arguments to dismiss possible reverse causation as well as alternative, non-political economy explanations of such regularity,discuss the general applicability of our index and conclude with policy implications.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by East Asian Bureau of Economic Research in its series Governance Working Papers with number 22076.

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    Date of creation: Jan 2009
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    Handle: RePEc:eab:govern:22076

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    Related research

    Keywords: Capital Cities; Gravity; Governance; Inequality; Redistribution; Population Concentration; Revolutions; Harmonic Functions; Axiomatics;

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    References

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    1. C. A. Hidalgo & B. Klinger & A. -L. Barabasi & R. Hausmann, 2007. "The Product Space Conditions the Development of Nations," Papers, arXiv.org 0708.2090, arXiv.org.
    2. Edward L. Glaeser & Matthew E. Kahn, 2003. "Sprawl and Urban Growth," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research 2004, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
    3. Campante, Filipe Robin & Chor, Davin & Do, Quoc-Anh, 2009. "Instability and the Incentives for Corruption," Scholarly Articles, Harvard Kennedy School of Government 4778510, Harvard Kennedy School of Government.
    4. Grossman, Herschel I & Iyigun, Murat F, 1997. "Population Increase and the End of Colonialism," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 64(255), pages 483-93, August.
    5. Roland G. Fryer, Jr & Richard T. Holden, 2007. "Measuring the Compactness of Political Districting Plans," NBER Working Papers, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc 13456, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Timothy Besley & Andrea Prat, 2006. "Handcuffs for the Grabbing Hand? Media Capture and Government Accountability," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 96(3), pages 720-736, June.
    7. Filipe R. Campante & Quoc-Anh Do, 2009. "A Centered Index of Spatial Concentration: Axiomatic Approach with an Application to Population and Capital Cities," Working Papers, Singapore Management University, School of Economics 02-2009, Singapore Management University, School of Economics.
    8. Timothy Besley & Masayuki Kudamatsu, 2007. "Making autocracy work," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library 3764, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    9. Campante, Filipe & Do, Quoc-Anh, 2007. "Inequality, Redistribution, and Population," Working Paper Series, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government rwp07-046, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
    10. Berger, Helge & Spoerer, Mark, 2001. "Economic Crises And The European Revolutions Of 1848," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge University Press, vol. 61(02), pages 293-326, June.
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    Cited by:
    1. Toke S. Aidt & Gabriel Leon, 2014. "The Democratic Window of Opportunity: Evidence from Riots in sub-Saharan Africa," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge 1417, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.

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